Banyana-Banyana were held to a 1-1 draw by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in their second round first leg 2024 Olympics Games qualifier at stade de Martyrs on Wednesday afternoon.
There were four players that were part of the squad that lost 2-0 to the USA in the second friendly that started against DRC in Thembi Kgatlana who was on captain duty again with Refilwe Jane still out. The others being Noxolo Cesane, Wendy Shongwe and Karabo Dhlamini. Andile Dlamini dropped to the bench with Kaylin Swart starting. Gabriela Salgado and Kholosa Biyana moved from the bench and into the starting XI.
Banyana looked like they were going to score first with Kgatlana in the opening two minutes but her effort was tame. Two minutes later there was another chance for the skipper to put South Africa ahead from outside the box but that went over the bar. The hosts had a clear chance in the ninth minute to break the deadlock through Merveille Kanjinga who was one on one with Swart but the Banyana keeper cleared the danger. Three minutes later Hildah Magaia found the Racing Louisville forward but her effort was swiftly blocked by the Congolese goalkeeper.
The hosts kept pushing for an opener winning a set-piece in the 14th minute but Marlene Kasaj shot right into Swart’s hands. DRC kept threatening the SA goal mouth without success until Kgatlana was brought down in the 31st minute to earn the African champions a free-kick. The breadwinner as Magaia is affectionately known stepped up but her shot was dealt with. With five minutes left to halftime Grace Mfwamba shot home beating Swart to hand her side a 1-0 lead going into the bread.
In the second half Desiree Ellis introduced Nicole Michael for Amogelang Motau. The TS Galaxy Queens player made an immediate effect as she crossed to Kgatlana in the 48th minute for Banyana to level. Salgado could have made it 2-1 for South Africa three minutes later but her attempt went wide. DRC had a golden chance to regain the lead in the 74th minute through Naomie Kaba-Kaba but Swart was there to deny her. With 10 minutes left on the clock Salgado found Kgatlana in the box and the captain could only pass to the keeper.
Janine Van Wyk, who was on the bench, did not get on the pitch, and still remains on 183 caps, one behind Ahmed Hassan’s overall record for men and women on the continent.
The result means South Africa need to win by more than one goal in the home leg and not concede in Orlando next Tuesday to stay on course to qualify for Paris 2024.